Located on the Seto Inland Sea, roughly halfway between Hiroshima and Kobe, Okayama is a fantastically accessible but often overlooked pocket of Japanese culture, food, and nightlife.
This is the mythical homeland of Momotaro (“Peach Boy”) — a popular figure of folklore who was born from the center of a peach. He’s now the prefecture’s official mascot, so expect to see his rosy-cheeked smile everywhere.
While Momotaro came out of a fruit, visitors to Okayama have plenty of chances to get tucked into them. The climate of this sunny prefecture is perfect for groves and vineyards which produce some of the most delicious fruit around.
Okayama isn’t short on sightseeing spots either. The capital, Okayama City, has a fantastic castle and one of Japan’s three most famous gardens. Head a little further out to Kurashiki to visit its well-preserved canal district. Further still and you’ll find Bitchu-Takahashi, home to the oldest castle and only surviving mountaintop fortress in the entire country: Matsuyama Castle.
If you’re more into the contemporary then the historical, consider taking a trip to Inujima, one of Japan’s famous art islands. It literally means “Dog Island,” but don’t get too excited — it isn’t filled with puppies. What it is filled with is a great collection of modern art, housed at a converted refinery named the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum.
The land of Peach Boy is a pleasant and welcoming place at every turn, with plenty to justify a stop of a few days or more on your Japan journey.